Seafood might be healthy, but it sure ain't healthy for the planet. With even 'sustainable' fish farms posing a risk to the environment, here is the lowdown on the ways in which those guilty pleasures you eat end up hurting the world's seas.
If you buy frozen octopus, the cephalopod you purchase could have been caught by a bottom trawl in South Africa. Not all octopus species are endangered, but eating some of the smartest animals on the planet is still painful. Certain kinds of octopi can solve complex puzzles and even imitate other sea creatures.
Soles and their relatives grow very slowly, and they are usually caught with a bottom trawl that scrapes the sea floor until it is as bare as the surface of the moon. A 2003 study indicated these fish were down to one-tenth of their original population. Soon, it might be too late.
It’s supposed to make you feel better, and even help men get lasting erections. But for every cup of shark fin soup you drink, a shark has been stripped of its fins and thrown overboard to suffocate underwater (sharks need to swim in order to breathe). More than 100 million sharks are killed each year, only for their fins.
Some seafood can be found in ‘shame-free’ farmed varieties, but there is no way out if you want bluefin tuna, which simply cannot be farmed. Bluefin tuna is either fished with long-lines, which also snag albatrosses and other seabirds, or caught in illegal nets, which also ensnare dolphins.
Whenever you enjoy a spoonful of this expensive luxury, remember that it may come from the belly of a pregnant sturgeon that was dragged onto a boat, clubbed and stripped of the eggs in its ovaries. With most sturgeon species threatened with extinction, caviar is definitely high on the list of bad seafood karma.
As if there’s nothing wrong with eating the meat of intelligent, awe-inspiring animals on the verge of extinction, whale meat can damage your health as well as your karma. In a rare case of ecological poetic justice, whale meat can poison you with accumulated mercury and other chemicals that have contaminated the seas.